On South African Power Flying Association’s (SAPFA) successful bid to host the 2020 World Rally Flying Championships, which will be hosted at Stellenbosch Airfield in November 2020, the leadership of SAPFA decided to try to raise awareness of the sport in South Africa.
Events have been organised to help promote the sport and increase the skill levels of the participants, who this year stand a real chance of obtaining the National Colours and represent SA in the World Championships.
SAPFA are no strangers to hosting the World Championships, SA has hosted the event three times in the past.
1991 – 7th World Rally Flying Championships– Stellenbosch Airfield
2003 – 13th World Rally Flying Championships– Pilanesberg Airfield
2011 – 20th World Precision Flying Championships – Brits Airfield
In preparation for the World Championships in 2020, SAPFA decided to hold a “mini training session” in Stellenbosch from 30 Oct to 2 Nov 2019. The objective was to bring all parties together in order to execute a ‘Mock Event’ utilising all available services in order to iron out any potential wrinkles ahead of the main event in 2020.
2020 will be a big year for power flying in South Africa, both the Aero Club of South Africa and the South African Power Flying Association will be celebrating their Centenary and a host of events have been planned to celebrate this achievement. The World Rally Flying Championships is definitely one of the important events celebrating the dual centenary.
The sport of Rally Flying is aimed to improve fundamental flying skills to enable a team, Pilot and Navigator, to navigate and handle their aircraft under Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) as independent of technical subsystems as possible. Thus, Rally Flying enhances flying safety. This overall aim for Rally Flying is achieved by:
1. Emphasizing the ability to navigate by following a set of route instructions, using basic equipment
2. Emphasizing the ability to follow a precise track while adhering closely to a timing test (punctuality test)
3. Emphasizing the ability to perform realistic observation tasks while navigating the aircraft on a timing test (observation test)
4. Emphasizing the ability to handle the aircraft on short and narrow landing strips (landing test)
These tasks would demonstrate the team’s ability to perform accurately and safely. Penalties are awarded for each error incurred and the team with the lowest penalties over all competition days is ultimately the winner. The winning country is selected from the top 2 team scores from each country.
For the World Championships a 1:200 000 scale topographical map is used as a base for the competition map, the routes will be set by the expert Protea Team of Frank and Cally Eckard and will be planned in the Special Rules Area, under the TMA, so maximum heights are restricted to 2000 ft AGL in the flat areas and 4000 AGL in the mountainous areas. The routes will nominally be set to the north, east and south east of the Stellenbosch Airfield.
A large field of approximately eighty teams are expected to attend the World Championships for a variety of countries including Austria, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and of course South Africa
Each Country will also bring additional crew in the form of International Judges, Team Managers, Judge Observers, Engineers, Supporters and Families. In total we are expecting in excess of 300 of the “crème de la crème” of international aviators and their families to visit South Africa. This will definitely boost the local economy.
An enormous amount of work went into the preparation for the practise evet. The SAPFA and WRFC Committees meet monthly and have worked tirelessly to ensure that the following sections were adequately covered:
1. Aircraft Hire and Insurance – Mostly C152s and C172s were flown in from various surrounding airfields – a huge logistical task excellently handled by Chareen Shillaw
2. Licence Validations – This took many hours of work and CAA meetings to finally arrive at a smooth operation – outstandingly arranged by Frank Eckard, Rob Jonkers and Marko Nel.
3. Stellenbosch Hospitality – Magnificently hosted by Anton Theart, Frank Olsen and the incredible teams running the newly renovated Stellenbosch Flying Club.
4. ATNS and Safety Planning – Professional approach by Rikus Erasmus, Nigel Musgrave and ATNS (with Santjie White and her team always ready in the wings)
5. Route Planning – World Class Routes planned by Cally and Frank Eckard showcasing some of the most breathtakingly stunning scenery in the world over the mountains, the sea, and the wine farms of the Western Cape.
6. Judging took place under the auspices of our well-seasoned international judges Jacques Jacobs, Ursula Schwebel and all their helpers.
7. Colin Jordaan (ex SAA / CAA), well versed in the art of Precision and Rally flying took up the mantle of Competition Director with ease.
The opportunity to practice in Stellenbosch was snapped up by the French, Polish, Swiss and Austrian international teams. The South African teams including current and potential Protea members also participated. An interesting mix of 2 united teams from different countries also took part. Michal Wieczorek from Poland flew with Mary de Klerk from South Africa and Mauritz du Plessis flew with Nicola from France.
Some teams arrived a few days early to take advantage of some tourism opportunities. The plan was to run open practice days from Wed – Friday and then the competition on Saturday 2nd Nov. However, no one anticipated SA getting into the World Cup Rugby Finals so the plan was changed to accommodate this event. The Competition was flown on Friday 1st to allow all participants to watch the game live in the various SFC hosting restaurant facilities…… a truly memorable event!!!! Training then resumed after the match on Saturday 2nd Nov.
The competition route on Friday was a route to the south east of Stellenbosch, with high overcast weather predicted with strong upper winds of up to 20 kts. The route took the teams just south of Sir Lowry’s Pass, remaining in the high ground and mountain areas until a steep descent to the coast to Voelklip, then along the coast all the way past Hermanus, with whales visible just off the river mouth in Walkerbay. From there the surprise steep climb up Maanskynkop, everybody having to snake their way over the top, and then into the Caledon valley up to the Theewaterskloof dam, and then back over the ridge of the Hotentots-Holland mountains to find the sharp bend in the railway line that goes up Sir Lowry’s pass, then to the finish point through Kleinnek which is just abeam the Helderberg. This was a very scenic route, as the whole Cape is, with many of the competitors being distracted from flying the route rather enjoying the scenery….
The French Team are well supported by their French Sporting Federation and therefore have to stick strictly to the Team Managers rules for training with little ‘free time’ to play. This discipline showed up in their final results with all 6 French Teams finishing in the top 10 positions.
The final results for all competitors were:
First place Olivier Riviere and Jerome Jireau
Second Place Michal Wieczorek and Mary de Klerk
Third place Alexis Fuchs and Adele Schramm with Colin Jordaan
The South African Rally Flying National Championships will take place at the Stellenbosch Flying Club from 2-4 April 2020. The final Protea Team to represent South Africa at the World Championships will be selected at this event. Ideally SAPFA are hoping to select an “A” team and a “B” team to give some newbies the opportunity to experience a real World Championships Event. Jonty Esser has been appointed as Chief Protea Team Coach and will be publishing a training schedule soon.
Thanks also to DJA Aviation for their contribution in supporting excess insurance on the hire aircraft that were made available for the international teams.
We are now investigating all avenues for financial and service support to ensure that we can deliver a world class event in 2020.